Welcome to the world of Movie Talk, where animated shorts become powerful tools to boost language acquisition. If you're familiar with Stephen Krashen's comprehensible input hypothesis, you know the value of providing students with understandable, engaging language experiences. Animated shorts offer an incredible opportunity to immerse students in the target language in a way that's both fun and effective. Let’s dive deep into strategies you can implement in your classroom to maximize the impact of using animated shorts for language learning.

Why Animated Shorts?

Animated shorts are a goldmine for language teachers. Here’s why:

  1. Visual Appeal: The colorful and dynamic nature of animated shorts captures students' attention.
  2. Cultural Relevance: They often depict universal themes and situations that students can relate to.
  3. No Dialogue Needed: Many animated shorts rely on visual storytelling, making them accessible regardless of students' language proficiency.

Choosing the Right Animated Short

Selecting the right animated short is crucial. Here’s how to make a choice that resonates with your students:

  1. Student Interests First: Choose shorts based on what interests your students rather than specific vocabulary themes or grammar points. Are your students into fantasy, humor, or adventure? Pick something they'll love.
  2. Minimal Dialogue: Opt for shorts with little to no dialogue. This keeps the focus on visual comprehension and reduces the cognitive load on language processing.
  3. Cultural and Emotional Resonance: Look for shorts that depict relatable emotions and scenarios. This helps students connect on a deeper level.

Preparing the Material

Once you’ve chosen an animated short, preparation is key. Here are the steps to get everything ready:

Create a Slide Deck with Screenshots

  1. Capture Key Scenes: Take screenshots of major scenes from the animated short. These will be the backbone of your lesson.
  2. One Image Per Slide: Paste each screenshot into a separate slide. This creates a clear visual progression for your lesson.
  3. Add Keywords: Include essential keywords or phrases on each slide. This provides visual cues and supports vocabulary acquisition.

Develop Scaffolding and Differentiated Questions

Questions are a great way to check comprehension and encourage language use:

  1. Scaffolded Questions: Start with basic questions (e.g., "What do you see?") and gradually increase complexity (e.g., "Why do you think the character is sad?").
  2. Differentiated Questions: Tailor questions to different proficiency levels. For beginners, use yes/no or choice questions. For advanced students, ask open-ended questions that require more elaborate responses.
  3. Comprehension Questions: Ensure you include questions that gauge understanding of the plot and characters.

Plan for Interaction

Interaction brings the story to life. Here are some interactive strategies:

  1. Act Out Key Scenes: Have students act out pivotal scenes. This helps with comprehension and retention while making learning active and fun.
  2. Predict the Punchline: Show the video up until the moment just before the punchline. Ask students to predict what happens next. This keeps them engaged and thinking critically.

During the Lesson

Now that you’ve prepared, it’s time to bring the animated short to your students. Follow these steps to execute your lesson effectively:


  1. Set the Scene: Give a brief introduction to the animated short without giving away the plot. This builds anticipation.
  2. Preview Keywords: Go over the keywords on your slides to prime students for the vocabulary they'll encounter.

Viewing and Discussing

  1. Watch in Segments: Play the animated short in small segments, pausing at key moments. After each segment, show the corresponding slide.
  2. Discuss Key Scenes: Use the scaffolded and differentiated questions to discuss each slide. Encourage students to express their thoughts and predictions.

Punchline and Prediction

  1. Build Suspense: Stop the video just before the punchline. Show the slide corresponding to this moment and ask students to predict the outcome.
  2. Reveal and Discuss: Play the final part of the short to reveal the punchline. Discuss whether students' predictions were accurate and explore their reactions.

Post-Viewing Activities

Engage students in post-viewing activities to reinforce comprehension and language skills:

Written Practice

  1. Written Version of the Video: Provide a written summary of the animated short. This gives students reading practice and reinforces the vocabulary and structures they’ve encountered.
  2. Rewrite the Ending: Ask students to write an alternative ending. This encourages creative thinking and language use.

Extension Activities

  1. Character Interviews: Have students interview each other in character. This role-play activity deepens their understanding and allows for spontaneous language practice.
  2. Comic Strip Creation: Let students create a comic strip of the animated short. This visual and creative task helps them process and summarize the story.

Out-of-the-Box Ideas

  1. Silent Viewing: Watch the short without sound and have students narrate the action. This focuses on language production and descriptive skills.
  2. Reverse Engineering: Show the short’s ending first and have students imagine the preceding events. This encourages critical thinking and hypothesis testing in the target language.
  3. Cultural Comparisons: Compare the themes or situations in the short with students’ own cultures. This fosters cross-cultural understanding and enriches the discussion.


Using animated shorts in the language classroom is a dynamic and effective way to provide comprehensible input. By choosing shorts based on student interests, preparing engaging visual aids, and incorporating interactive and creative activities, you can create a rich, immersive language experience.

Remember, the goal is to make language acquisition enjoyable and meaningful. Animated shorts are not just a break from routine—they're a powerful tool that aligns perfectly with Stephen Krashen's principles of comprehensible input. So, get started, have fun, and watch your students’ language skills soar!

Key Takeaways

  1. Student Interests Over Vocabulary Themes: Choose animated shorts based on what interests your students rather than focusing on specific vocabulary or grammar points. This ensures higher engagement and motivation.
  2. Utilize Visual Storytelling: Opt for shorts with minimal to no dialogue, relying on visual storytelling to convey the plot. This helps maintain focus on comprehension through visual cues and reduces cognitive load on language processing.
  3. Interactive and Scaffolded Discussions: Prepare a slide deck with key screenshots and scaffolded, differentiated questions to guide discussions. This approach supports comprehension and allows for tailored language practice suitable for various proficiency levels.
  4. Engage Through Predictive Activities: Stop the video before the punchline and ask students to predict the outcome. This keeps students actively engaged, encourages critical thinking, and stimulates discussion.
  5. Reinforce with Post-Viewing Activities: Extend learning through written practice, such as providing a written version of the video or having students create alternative endings. Interactive activities like character interviews and comic strip creation further solidify comprehension and promote language use.

Implement these strategies in your classroom and share your experiences. How do your students respond? What are their favorite shorts? Let’s keep the conversation going and continue to explore the best ways to engage our students in the magic of language learning through movies.

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